PANAMA CITY BEACH Fla. (WMBB) — Panama City Beach City Council members approved some major plans Thursday, for next year’s budget.
The general fund budget will be $41.60 million, just slightly less than the 2021 budget.
Council members say 57 percent of the total spending will be going toward public safety.
This includes adding a new police substation and some new fire stations in the near future.
Panama City Beach Fire Chief Ray Morgan said they are looking forward to rebuilding two fire stations.
The first is station 31 located next to city hall and then they will work on station 32 on Hutchinson Boulevard.
These are both older buildings and the rebuild will be safer for the firefighters.
“In bad weather and hurricanes it’s not safe for our guys to stay there,” Morgan said. “We have to relocate to our other station and or off the island completely which we know is compromising for our citizens’ safety.”
This project is currently in the design phase. Once that design is approved they will begin the demo and the firefighters will move to temporary housing.
They will also be adding two new full-time lifeguards to the staff bringing their full-time team up to seven members.
The Panama City Beach Police Department will be adding three new officers, an intel analyst, and getting a new substation.
Chief J.R. Talamantez said this is very important for the department’s operations.
“It will be a great benefit,” Talamantez said. “Right now we don’t have a footprint for our officers to I guess take a break to eat lunch and use the restroom on the east end of Panama City Beach. This is going to be vital for police operations moving forward.”
Talamantez said they are working on securing an exact location for the substation. As of now, the plan is to have it near Churchwell Drive.
The Panama City Beach Police Department currently has 74 officers.
The council also approved the highly discussed water and sewer rate hikes.
Next year residents’ water rates will go up by 1 percent and sewer rates will go up by 4 percent.
$24 million of the city’s budget will go to the Front Beach Road Community Redevelopment Areas construction which runs from State Route 79 to North Richard Jackson Boulevard.
$4.3 million will be used to improve lighting on Front Beach Road and South Thomas Drive as well as the CRA crosswalk project.